To state the obvious, debuts are important, and Pledis’s new six-member group TWS, their first boy group since Seventeen, had a wildly successful one in January. What is sometimes less talked about is how critical the sophomore comeback is. A group’s first comeback holds the keys to firmly establishing their artistic identity and tests whether public attention attracted during debut will be lasting. A hit sophomore comeback, for example, Le Sserafim’s “Antifragile” or Ive’s “Love Dive,” can catapult a group into long-term popularity and relevance. A less successful effort can stymy growth and trigger creative crisis.

All of this is to say that TWS’s sophomore release, mini album Summer Beat with the title track “If I’m S, Can you Be My N?” (and promoted pre-release “hey! hey!”), has a decent amount riding on it. Fortunately, the group largely rise to the occasion with a refreshing track that crystallizes the youthful concept that made their debut standout.

The track begins with its titular lyrics, laying out a simple and sweet story of young love (which, given the plethora of heartwarming teamwork motifs in the MV, could be interpreted as platonic friendship love and/or romantic crush love), while seemingly referencing the currently mega-popular MBTI system:

If I’m S, can you by my N?

So I can always find you

The us of tomorrow might realize

the 10 millionth reason why opposites attract

The MV fits right in with TWS’s previous work with its school setting and bright energy as the members dash around classrooms, gymnasiums, a running track, and the literal sky. “If I’m S, Can you Be My N?” also continues TWS’s trend of having athletic, whimsical choreography, and the dance snippets featured in the MV are a highlight.

It’s interesting to note that the visual coherence across TWS’s current releases is so great that they even share a very specific color palette (blue, brown, white, gray, and sometimes green). This attention to detail is likely one reason that, despite the plethora of school-themed MVs in K-pop, TWS’s specific universe retains a unique look and feel.

Of course, there is such a thing as too much cohesiveness, and “If I’m S, Can you Be My N?” is right on that line. On the one hand, it thrives because it is so of-a-kind with TWS’s debut, carrying the same infectious charm, and hammering home TWS’s conceptual identity. On the other hand, “If I’m S, Can you Be My N?” doesn’t add anything to the creative cauldron: There’s nothing you would learn about TWS watching “If I’m S, Can you Be My N?” that you wouldn’t already know if you had seen their debut.

Good sophomore comebacks build on debut energy by solidifying the concept and appeal of a group, which “If I’m S, Can you Be My N?” succeeds at in spades. Great sophomore comebacks do that and a little bit extra, by adding something new to the mix or pushing a core concept into a second evolution. “If I’m S, Can you Be My N?” doesn’t quite reach greatness. Nevertheless, this catchy summer tune confirms TWS as a group worth watching, and raises anticipation for their next — hopefully just a bit more daring — move.

(YouTube. Lyrics via YouTube. Images via HYBE, Pledis Entertainment.)